Zar Und Zimmermann was an opera that I wasn't familiar with until recently, hearing the classic recording with Hermann Prey et al. And I saw this 1969/70 performance as I do like Hans Sotin and Lucia Popp a lot. Is the opera one of my favourites? Not really as of now, though it might grow on me overtime. But is it worthwhile? Oh, absolutely. The music is lovely and the whole opera is appealing and wonderfully comic. And along with the Prey recording, this performance is a perfect introduction to Zar Und Zimmermann. It is a very traditional-looking production, the sets and costumes are colourful and straightforward yet effective stage direction from Joachim Heiss. Even with the fact it was filmed in a television studio, there is something about the video directing with the close ups and shots that makes it look as though it could've been done easily as a stage production. The orchestra and conducting are wonderful, and the dialogue is very funny often. The performances are from a starry cast and with no weak link. Raymond Wolansky is a suitably wise and human Peter Michaelov, the character reminding me a little of Hans Sachs from Meistersinger. Zar Und Zimmermann shows Lucia Popp in her earliest performance(as far as I know) filmed, and it is a great performance, charming and her voice of silvery purity and expressive phrasing. Horst Wilhelm sings tenderly as the Marquis especially in Lebe Wohl, Mein Fland'risch Mädchen where the tender, lyrical approach is needed, and Ursula Boese is an effective Widow Browe. Best of all is the Van Bett of Hans Sotin, whose voice is as sonorous as ever and whose portrayal is wonderfully satirical. Sancta Justita is very amusing with clever use of orchestration, and I love how sophisticated the Act 2 finale is. However my favourite was the choral directing scene from the beginning of Act 3, it is side-splittingly funny in how the chorus just make a dog's dinner of the music and blame it on Van Bett. In conclusion, a delightful television studio performance. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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